Featuring alumni of the first grunge band ever (Green River), Mudhoney's first E.P. slated them as progenitors of that grimy, slow, metal-punk hybrid that their city would become famous for in a few years. Named for the distortion pedals guitarists Mark Arm and Steve Turner were using, Superfuzz Bigmuff has a boozy swagger and a defiant sneer permeating its six tracks which leaves the listener's ears ringing and desperate for more.

The cover art is a photo of the aforementioned guitar players on stage, and it perfectly embodies the wild, drunken antics the band was famous for in concert in those days. This is easily one of my favorite live shots of any band.
joshthevegan: (screamy)

Save the baby! Kill the doctor! )
joshthevegan: (screamy)

Singer Mark Arm has described Five Dollar Bob's Mock Cooter Stew as an opportunity to "get new music out to the fans between albums." It consists of seven tracks, four of which were brand new, two of which were released as b-sides to singles, and one is a re-recording of a prviously available song. The five new recordings were all finished in the span of about 45 minutes, but don't come off sounding rushed. Instead these songs exude intimacy, and a sense of levity.

The E.P. opens with "In The Blood", a drudging "ballad" of sorts with organ flares that complement the sloppy meandering of the band. "No Song III" is a youthful, punk-y whirlwind splattered with drummer Dan Peters' signature fills and flourishes. The country-western tinged "Between You and Me Kid" is fun and irreverent. It showcases the band's expanding arsenal of styles, and helps cement that Mudhoney is a lot more than just a "grunge" band. On the other end of the spectrum, "Six Two One" is about as classic-sounding Mudhoney as you can get. Piece of Cake's "Make It Now" appears here in re-recorded form as "Make It Now Again". (This song got its name from an experience Arm and Turner had in traffic. An ambulance was trying to cut through, and the driver got on a loudspeaker and shouted "Make a hole! Make it wide! Make it now!") Here, the song is sped up a few bpm's, and the muddy psychadelia accented a little more. This song is the first incarnation of a sound Mudhoney would perfect on Since We've Become Transluscent. The last two tracks, "Deception Pass" and "Underride" are peppy little alterna-rock numbers that are enjoyable, but sound like. . .well, like b-side material.

Five Dollar Bob's Mock Cooter Stew definitely rocks at some points, but overall, the feel of this E.P. is fun. The band even had fun in the writing of the liner notes. Producer Kurt Bloch is listed as "Curt" and "Kurdt", a little jab at Kurt Cobain who was known for purposely misspelling his name in liner notes. Fortunately they got this joke off when they did, as jokes about Cobain would become taboo just months later.

Five Dollar Bob's Mock Cooter Stew - 7 out of 10

She beats the shit out of me )

Good riddance to the both of you, I hope you go far! )

Tons of pictures this time, so beware! )

Crawling out of the ashes of Green River, lead singer Mark Arm and original guitarist Steve Turner started writing songs under the name Mudhoney (taken from a Russ Meyer movie that neither of them had actually seen.)  The early recordings were more a melding of blues and early hardcore (especially "My War" era Black Flag) than the heavy metal sound that Green River was going towards at the end of their tenure.  The band released an e.p. called "Superfuzz Bigmuff" and a 7 inch single entitled "Touch Me I'm Sick" on local label Sub Pop.  These releases gained some recognition and grabbed the attention of Sonic Youth who asked the band to back them on their upcoming tour.  On this tour, Mudhoney received even more recognition, and "Superfuzz Bigmuff" became an underground hit in Europe.  

When the band returned home, they started work on their first full-length album: 1988's "Mudhoney."  Full of intentionally sloppy performances drenched in fuzz box distortion, the songs are short, gritty, and full of youthful bravado.  From the opening moments of this album, it is clear Mudhoney was not following anyone else's lead, but rather heading out into uncharted territory.  Shimmery tremolo leads constantly dancing over a simple two fuzzy chords set a fantastic back drop for Mark Arm to practically whisper into the microphone, "I've got something waiting for you, that's right. . ."  The band all snaps together for the chorus, and the full power of the cheap distortion pedals is unleashed in full.  

From Flat Out Fucked  to Here Comes Sickness, "Mudhoney" is full of rockers that are relentless and fantastic.  Arm belts out amazing vocals and Turner almost never stops soloing over the whole thing.  The centerpiece of the album, though, is definitely the hypnotic When Tomorrow Hits.  The song fades in the two, clean-tone chords, and it's not until almost a minute into the song that Arm starts mumbling some lyrics.  The whole song builds tension through repitition until the two-minute mark, where the distortion pedal is finally hit, and, as the song says, it hits you hard.  

Grittier than "Ten," cooler than "Nevermind," and more adventurous than "Dirt," "Mudhoney" is really the quintessential grunge album.  The band has released many albums since, but none had the magic that their first did.

September 2014



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